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Forrester Explains The Post-PC Era

By - Source: Forrester | B 40 comments

We all talk about it, but it looks as if we really don't know what it is -- the post-PC era.

Forrester has published a report that sheds some light on this change in computing and explains what it means.

According to Forrester, it has been a buzzword for some time and it does not necessarily mean that PCs are dying. The market research firm believes, however, that computing landscape is shifting to what we could call the post-PC era. Analyst Sarah Rotman said that this shift is defined by a shift from stationary to ubiquitous computing, from formal to casual computing, from arms-length to intimate computing (which refers to the places we are using computers) and by abstracted to physical computing (which refers to touchscreen usage).

"So where is this all going? In the post-PC era, the “PC” is alive and well, but it morphs to support computing experiences that are increasingly ubiquitous, casual, intimate, and physical," Rotman wrote in a blog post. "The new MacBook Air and Samsung Series 9 demonstrate PCs going in this direction. In the post-PC era, PCs are joined by smartphones and tablets, as well as future devices like wearables and surfaces." The analyst envisions a range of new devices, many of which we have discussed in the past: Displays embedded eyeglasses or contact  lenses. Electronics-embedded clothing.

The bottom line? The PC is alive and well. It will just have to compete with new computing devices and find its place in a changing computing environment.

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  • 4 Hide
    may1 , May 18, 2011 10:52 PM
    Desktops will always exist, in the business and gaming industries. End.
  • 0 Hide
    NapoleonDK , May 18, 2011 10:53 PM
    Too much trouble to add a link? =\
  • 0 Hide
    NapoleonDK , May 18, 2011 10:54 PM
    NapoleonDKToo much trouble to add a link? =\
    Nevermind...
  • Display all 40 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    someguynamedmatt , May 18, 2011 11:00 PM
    may1Desktops will always exist, in the business and gaming industries. End.

    Yep. Technology may shrink, but that will only mean that you can fit even more power into your desktop. They'll always be around, no matter what happens, short of the apocalypse.
  • 3 Hide
    sceen311 , May 18, 2011 11:11 PM
    PC stands for Personal Computer. Smartphones and Tablets are More personal then any desktop.

    Post-PC era no where in sight.
  • 3 Hide
    _Cubase_ , May 18, 2011 11:18 PM
    I like to think of this whole situation as the technology being similar to women: It may be cool to have a couple of sleek, pretty looking and simple ones with you on the side when you're out and about, but at the end of the day you always come home to the real deal... albeit, a bigger and sturdier one.
  • 0 Hide
    Assmar , May 18, 2011 11:26 PM
    In the post-PC era will we finally be able to say Apple products are for yuppies? Eh, I want to say something more offensive, but I really don't...
  • 2 Hide
    iNiNe5 , May 18, 2011 11:57 PM
    alot of these devices wouldn't exist, if the developers didn;t at one point or another develop them on a desktop....
  • -4 Hide
    molo9000 , May 19, 2011 12:00 AM
    someguynamedmattYep. Technology may shrink, but that will only mean that you can fit even more power into your desktop. They'll always be around, no matter what happens, short of the apocalypse.

    Conventional desktop PCs will eventually die out as consumer products and only be used by professionals and hobbyists.

    The vast majority of consumers don't need a super computer. The normal user only uses a computer for reading email and news, reading and writing documents, watching youtube videos (which he's going to do with his TV in 5 years), managing digital photos and maybe cutting home videos (which tablets are already capable off).
    What's he going to buy a PC for if his TV and a 600gram 12-14" tablet can do that for him better than any PC in 5-10years?

    PC gaming is going to die just the same. What keeps PC gaming alive are not enthusiast who build 1-2grand gaming PCs. It's people who have a desktop PCs anyway and would like to play some games on them.
    Console gaming (or maybe set-top-box gaming or whatever - it's unlikely that the gaming consoles will survive as single-purpose devices) is going to take over once nobody needs desktop PCs anymore.
  • 2 Hide
    azrealhk , May 19, 2011 12:17 AM
    I predict the PC will be center for a home cloud. Where all other devices (smartphones, tablets etc), will use the storage capacity and processing power of PCs in the home. You can run things like Photoshop, Premier etc on your tablet but the real processing will be on your PC. It may also be a media hub, when your devices can upload and download your media.
    I dont think the PC will die out, just change.
  • 0 Hide
    MeanSquare , May 19, 2011 12:45 AM
    sceen311 said it truly. The term "Post-PC" is not only ambiguous, it's misleading. I prefer ubiquitous computing (although it's harder to say). What users (home and business) are increasingly looking for is not one device that suits every need (I doubt there could be such a thing.), but multiple devices that suit various needs but which all have _seamless_ access to the data they need to work together.
    Out of the office, smartphones serve as the point of data contact, for getting data in and out quickly and for location-based or location-specific information as well. In the office or at home, tablets can perform simple to mid-sized tasks. The desktop system is still necessary (and will be for the foreseeable future) for the heavy lifting and heavy editing. It's a simple matter of power, screen real-estate, and available input methods. The whole thing only works well when you don't have to sync, transfer, or otherwise move data around to get it onto the device you want to work with.
    Right now, I use an Android phone, Android tablet, and desktop PC with gmail, Google Docs, and Google calendar to accomplish this. The added benefit is that I can also share specific docs and calendars with other folks as well.
  • 1 Hide
    rohitbaran , May 19, 2011 12:48 AM
    someguynamedmattYep. Technology may shrink, but that will only mean that you can fit even more power into your desktop. They'll always be around, no matter what happens, short of the apocalypse.

    I hope they do. I won't play Crysis 5000 on a iCrap 20.
  • 2 Hide
    greliu , May 19, 2011 1:11 AM
    The fact is technology is always changing, and none of us really know what's going to happen to PCs. Personally, I could care less if the PC continued to exist as a stand alone tower. If other devices begin to develop that allow us to do the same things as our personal computers, that's a good thing. Who cares what it may be called or look like, just as long as we continue to advance what we are able to do with it.
  • 1 Hide
    aznguy0028 , May 19, 2011 1:29 AM
    Forrester, ORLY genius? It doesn't take a scientist to realize that technology is ever changing and that any medium will eventually evolve to be different in its own way or absorbed into another. Take the radio, phone, television, and then the internet, all of them have changed and evolved with the times. What a waste of time reading this "analysis".
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , May 19, 2011 2:10 AM
    I'm sure they'll be able to fit awesome processing power into cellphones eventually but don't make me use those tiny displays. I'll be happy to junk my desktop once my smartphone can interface with three 24" screens, a keyboard, a mouse and 5.1 speakers.
  • 0 Hide
    jecastej , May 19, 2011 2:57 AM
    But you could always have a heavier customizable and/or modular box with connectors that will be relatively big, heavy and power hungry compared to the standard mobile computer in the next decade that you could proudly call your desktop supercomputer. (Me included because I use powerful computers too).

    The big box desktop will disappear from homes in less than a decade and because of this we "the ones who most benefited from powerful desktops and workstations" will suffer the increased price.

    Just look at professional GPUs. They are here today side by side and they are way more expensive than consumer GPUs. Every desktop PC part that is more specialized, business specific or oriented is more than twice or more than the consumer PC equivalent. And clearly and more specific because of market share.
  • 0 Hide
    Maximus_Delta , May 19, 2011 6:09 AM
    PC will live on, simple reasons, intensive apps like 3D gaming generate too much heat and draw too much power to contain in a small set top box or mobile device. You want to game at 1920x1080 on your big screen or crunch HD video, its no contest and you need a reasonably hefty box with decent cooling. I agree the PC will become the centre of your digital life / personal computing cloud. Just look at all the connectivity on the back of a modern motherboard and how many devices you can end up having plugged in via USB. A high-end PC / custom built machine will always be the domain of the enthusiasts, but I think tablets are more the fad if anything. No more than a supplement to my PC so I can browse the web on my couch. Desks haven't gone out of fashion, neither will the desktop PC. I trust you agree if you really think about it.. two trends, more mobility and unplugged freedom and then bigger and better, both co-existing.
  • 0 Hide
    dalauder , May 19, 2011 7:00 AM
    In ten years, the equivalent of a Athlon II x2 ($50 CPU) and a Radeon 5670 ($70 GPU) will be able to run any game maxed out at 3840x2160 on 73" screens, since it'll take 73" screens to see the limit of 1080p for most people's eyes.

    There is actually a limit on what eyes can see and it's somewhere around there. At that point, graphics won't need to improve (except for programming physics and AI), so it's hard to imagine the home central computer wirelessly connected to everything in your house will have any trouble handling it all. That seems less "personal" to me, since it'll be shared by the whole house.
  • 0 Hide
    dalauder , May 19, 2011 7:02 AM
    CPUs will always continue to speed up for workstation computers for engineering kind of work. But the cloud will be the fastest place to do video encoding/transcoding. So VERY few home enthusiasts will need speed beyond what can be done with a photo editing program. And I don't see a computer that's 20x faster than an i7-2600K being that limited in most 2D photo editing (assuming 10MP is the limit of reasonable sizes to work with).
  • 0 Hide
    snoogins , May 19, 2011 8:08 AM
    I don't see PCs disappearing, however, I do see them continue to get smaller.

    Most people now can build a pretty nice machine on mATX (except those few extreme people - who will be the only ones buying bigger systems in the future), and you can even build a semi-decent machine on mini-itx.

    Not too far from now you will still have a PC, it will just be wii-sized, and able to power all the games you want.

    At least thats what I expect.
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